Birth preparation classes come in many forms. Here we will review some of the most popular in the country. There are classes unique to your region developed by birth professionals.
This is the most in-depth course. The length of the course is typically 2 hours per class for 12 weeks. The Bradley Method emphasizes partner coaching, so yes that means your partner is expected to attend and participate in each class, as well as do the homework with you. Much of each class is information so the partner coach learns the natural process, and how to help their laboring woman stay comfortable during labor, while also being able to advocate for her and their family. The classes are geared toward preparing the woman’s body for labor and birth without medication. During the course couples receive an in-depth booklet, and learn about:
- physical positions and exercises
- and rehearsals
The HypnoBirth method concentrates its focus on teaching in the absence of fear, or medical conditions, birth can happen without pain. By learning relaxation techniques and following your body’s natural instincts birth can be a calm and serene experience. HypnoBirth is often taught in small group or private classes over the span of 5 weeks. There are more take home tools with this method:
- A copy of the 302-page book, HypnoBirthing® Text
- 5 professionally written scripts for practicing at home
- 2 CDs to help with relaxation and bonding
- Handouts for creating and sharing your birth plan
Yes, this is different than HypnoBirth, it’s just that the names are almost identical. The main variation with Hypnobabies is this method implements medical-grade hypnosis and hypnotic compounding (repetition). This hypnosis is aimed toward making normal sensations of labor and birth pleasurable ones. So, those videos you may find online about women having orgasms during labor…yup, they may have used this technique. Hypnobabies is more than guided imagery and breathing; it teaches the same hypnosis techniques as people use when preparing for surgery without anesthesia. Hypnobabies participants attend classes which are each three hours long and run for six weeks. The supplies provided include:
- 7 CDs for the Hypno-Mom
- 1 for the Birth Partner
- Quick reference guide to use during labor
- The Birth Partner’s Guide Booklet
- 5 scripts
If you feel that birth is a rite of passage, then Birthing From Within is the class most suited for you. This childbirth preparation class takes a spiritual and holistic approach to birth. By learning how to acknowledge unexpected and sometimes even unwelcome events you can discover your strengths and even build confidence. Class content comes primarily from the individual needs of those in attendance. Still some of the goals to discuss include:
- nutrition for pregnancy and breastfeeding
- visualizations for opening your body and mind
- building confidence
- protecting your birth space
- welcoming your baby
With Birthing From Within participants use 2 CDs for relaxation and bonding. These classes offer some of the most flexibility for attendance with options like a six week series, four 3-hour Saturday classes, weekend intensives, and even private workshops with its creator Pam England.
- Hospital Classes
Classes offered by the hospital where you plan to birth generally discuss hospital policies and procedures, physiology of birth, and possibly breathing and relaxation techniques. You and your one support person will learn the techniques for breathing and comfort measures, what to expect during the labor process, pain management options and understanding when a cesarean birth might be necessary.
Class fee includes teaching materials and some hospitals offer exclusive, free access to additional online birthing videos, stories and teaching materials.
One benefit to having a doula early on in pregnancy is she can help figure out which course is best for you. And if your birth coach or doula is anything like me she will have a list of experienced professionals who teach each type of those classes.